Ideas for a New Art World: Zarina Muhammad & Michael Lacey in Conversation

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20 September 2021 @ 7:30 pm 8:30 pm BST

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We’re really looking forward to hosting a discussion between writer and art critic Zarina Muhammad, and artist Michael Lacey, who will be diving into some of the ideas for a new art world proposed by the white pube’s recent Rough Trade Books pamphlet. The conversation will be streaming via Instagram Live.

The art world is a bit broken. So many problems, such little time. Between January-April 2021, we plastered the distilled thoughts of years of writing on billboards and posters across the UK. We wanted to plop these aphorisms out there, as simple, feasible solutions; almost to prove how easy it can be if change is sincerely sought.

The ideas are not radical, and they’re not new. They’re just six Very Good Ideas that we think you should listen to. In this pamphlet, we’ve listed the six ideas and taken the time to explain why we think they are, in fact, Very Good Ideas.

There could have been hundreds. Maybe there should have been. But these were the initial ideas for a new art world we went with. We hope they’ll make you think about more Very Good Ideas too.

Zarina Muhammad is a writer, art critic, and artist (sometimes). she is a co-founder of the white pube, an online art criticism platform that publishes reviews, essays and other little bits in between.
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cancer sun/aries moon/sagittarius ascendant
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hobbies: skincare, making chutney & growing things that she can eventually eat at some point.
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‘hysterical schoolgirl’, ‘intellectual charlatan’, ‘alt-right jihadi meme-lord’, ‘sociopathic pseudo-critic’, leading proponent of ‘The Philosophy of the Warm Tummy’ & cowboy in the art world

Michael Lacey is an artist based in Liverpool. His work primarily uses painting, drawing and collage to describe the topography and inhabitants of a fictitious, nameless netherworld, a contemplative and dreamlike space rich in symbolism and dark humour. His collage works have been exhibited widely around the UK and internationally. Recent projects have included residencies with Manchester City Council, METAL Liverpool, andthe white pube, short fiction for Hoax Publication and co-writing the ‘lockdown sitcom’ Gated Community with Laura Yuile for Collective, Edinburgh. Since 2020 he has managed OUTPUT Gallery, an artist-led space which aims to platform the work of creatives who are from or based in the Merseyside area.

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Leah Cowan in Conversation with Kimberly McIntosh

Yesterday evening we welcomed Leah Cowan for a discussion of her crucial new book, BORDER NATION, with Kimberly McIntosh. Huge thanks to Leah and Kimberly for their insights into the political agendas that serve to uphold border regimes, the colonial legacies that can be read through contemporary migration laws, and, most importantly, advice on how we all can (and must) employ the work of border resistance in our everyday lives.

Thanks also to everyone who joined us live for being such an engaged audience and offering such thoughtful and nuanced questions. Watch below if you missed it…

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CM2w7BBHgy-/
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An Apartment on Uranus by Paul B. Preciado

An Apartment on Uranus
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These bite size essays from the author of Testo Junkie offer urgent and transgressive routes beyond the grim horizons of our current social and political landscape. For anyone seeking to uncover what it is to live and write radically, this is essential reading.

Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions on 15th January 2020

Outspoken: JJ Bola and Natalie Fiennes

Outspoken
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Join us as we welcome JJ Bola and Natalie Fiennes to read from and discuss their new books, MASK OFF and BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, the first two titles published by Pluto Press for their new series, Outspoken.

MASK OFF: MASCULINITY REDEFINED by JJ Bola

In Mask Off, JJ Bola exposes masculinity as a performance that men are socially conditioned into. Using examples of non-Western cultural traditions, music and sport, he shines light on historical narratives around manhood and debunks popular myths.

‘JJ Bola succeeds not only in holding men accountable for the ways in which we have benefited from male privilege, but also in liberating us from its violently toxic demands. Without instrumentalising feminism for male interests, ‘Mask Off’ bravely seeks to dismantle intersectional axes of oppression that materialise from patriarchal structures’ — David Lammy, MP

JJ Bola is a writer, poet and educator. He is the author of the novel No Place to Call Home (2017). He is a contributor to Derek Owusu’s Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space.

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: SEX EDUCATION TRANSFORMED by Natalie Fiennes

From contraceptives to virginity, consent to pornography, transphobia to sexual abuse, Behind Closed Doors demands a radical, inclusive and honest sex education. Going beyond the ‘birds and the bees’ it unravels how our desires are influenced by powerful political processes that can be transformed.

Natalie Fiennes is a journalist and filmmaker. She is currently working in documentary film making and has taught sex education and consent classes in schools, universities, and youth centres around the UK.

OUTSPOKEN

Platforming underrepresented voices; intervening in important political issues; revealing powerful histories and giving voice to our personal experiences; Outspoken is a book series unlike any other. Unravelling debates on sex education, masculinity, feminism, mental health, and class and inequality, Outspoken has the answers to the questions you’re asking.

Read more

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Do Something: Kajal Odedra with Minnie Rahman

Do Something - Kajal Odedra
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Join as for a discussion of people power and grass-roots activism with change.org’s UK Director, Kajal Odedra. Kajal will be reading from her new book, DO SOMETHING, before being joined in conversation by Minnie Rahman.

People power works and is changing the world around us.

This is a user’s guide to activism by one of the UK’s biggest names in grass-roots campaigning. Illustrated with lessons from the real world, it is a guide to creating change for anyone who has ever asked themselves ‘why hasn’t anyone done something about that?’

We are taught to believe that only a small group of people in society have the ability to change laws and company policies. That’s simply not true any longer – each of is capable of using our experiences to change the world. We just need to use that thing that makes us different, and learn how to channel it.

Having worked as a campaigner for the last 12 years, Kajal Odedra of change.org – which is used by 17 million people in the UK – has learned the tricks of the trade that have traditionally been held in circles of power, and believes that everyone should know how to speak up and be heard. Her mission is to show people how to use their voice to make their community, politicians and CEOs take notice.

Do Something is a blueprint for creating change; an indispensable guide to inspire anyone feeling frustrated, no matter what the issue, to stand up and do something.

Kajal Odedra is UK Director at Change.org, the world’s largest online petition website with 200 million users worldwide and over 17 million in the UK, where she has helped strategise movements such as the petition to end tampon tax and the New Era Housing campaign. Kajal has worked in the campaigns and tech sector for over 10 years, is an advisor for the women in STEM group Ada’s List and founded the People of Colour initiative. Kajal lives and works in London.

Minnie Rahman is a writer and campaigner specialising in migrant’s rights, climate change and social justice. After working in both the European and UK Parliament for 5 years as an expert in Government policy, she moved on to help co-ordinate the campaign to uncover the Windrush scandal with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Minnie is now leading on campaigns to scrap the “hostile environment” and to get new rights for undocumented migrants. She is also the creator of Inclusive Book Club.

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CANCELLED Women of Westminster: Rachel Reeves with Diane Abbott and Diane Atkinson

Women of Westminster - Rachel Reeves
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Join us as we welcome Rachel Reeves, author of WOMEN OF WESTMINSTER: THE MPS WHO CHANGED POLITICS,  for a discussion of the achievements of women in Parliament over the last century. Joining Rachel in conversation will be Diane Abbott and Diane Atkinson.

WOMEN OF WESTMINSTER by Rachel Reeves

In 1919 Nancy Astor was elected as the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton, becoming the first woman MP to take her seat in the House of Commons. Her achievement was all the more remarkable given that women (and even then only some women) had only been entitled to vote for just over a year.

In the past 100 years, a total of 489 women have been elected to Parliament. Yet it was not until 2015 that the total number of women ever elected surpassed the number of male MPs in a single parliament. The achievements of these political pioneers have been remarkable – Britain has now had two female Prime Ministers and women MPs have made significant strides in fighting for gender equality from the earliest suffrage campaigns to Barbara Castle’s fight for equal pay to Harriet Harman’s recent legislation on the gender pay gap. Yet the stories of so many women MPs have too often been overlooked in political histories. In this book, Rachel Reeves brings many forgotten MPs out of the shadows and looks at the many battles fought by the Women of Westminster, from 1919 to 2019.

Featuring insightful and honest interviews with leading women from Theresa May, Dianne Abbot to Harriet Harman, Rachel Reeves MP celebrates the inspirational achievements of women in parliament over the course of the past 100 years.

RISE UP, WOMEN! by Diane Atkinson

From their marches on Parliament and 10 Downing Street, to the selling of their paper, through to the more militant activities of the Women’s Social and Political Union, whose slogan ‘Deeds Not Words!’ resided over bombed pillar-boxes, as well as acts of arson and the slashing of great works of art; the women who participated in the movement endured police brutality, assault, imprisonment and force-feeding, all in the relentless pursuit of one goal: the right to vote.

Diane Atkinson celebrates the lives of the women who answered the call to ‘Rise Up’; a richly diverse group of actresses and mill-workers, teachers and doctors, bootmakers and sweated workers. Rise Up, Women! brings these women to life in a stirring celebration of their grace, resilience and determination that changed the world forever.

Rachel Reeves is the Labour MP for Leeds West. Between 2010-2015, Reeves served on the opposition frontbench as Shadow Pensions Minister, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Following the 2015 general election, Reeves joined the Treasury Select Committee and in July last year was elected Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee.

Diane Abbott is the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. In 1987 she was the first black woman elected to Parliament, and is now the longest serving black MP in the House of Commons. Throughout her career, Diane has championed global justice, human rights, peace and security issues at home and abroad. She has been a vocal campaigner around race-relations, transparency and justice around policing, surveillance, Stop and Search, and detainment without trial. Since 2016 she has served as Shadow Home Secretary.

Diane Atkinson is the author of two illustrated history books, Suffragettes in Pictures and Funny Girls: Cartooning for Equality, and three biographies, Love & Dirt, Elsie and Mairi Go to War and The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton. A regular lecturer on the suffragettes at conferences and literary festivals, Diane Atkinson has also appeared on radio programmes including Woman’s Hour, and has consulted on numerous television documentaries, as well as, most recently, the film Suffragette.

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Look at Us by Daniel Kramb & JJ Bola – Rehearsed Reading

Look at Us - Daniel Kramb and JJ Bola
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Join us for the first public reading of ‘Look at Us’, a play collaboration by the writers and poets JJ Bola and Daniel Kramb, featuring actors Linda Wachaga and Ciaran Hammond.

In a dingy Dalston flatshare a young couple are sitting it out. Unable to deal with what’s happening out there, and what isn’t for them, they are spending their nights and days in bed, in thrall of social media, utterly powerless. Will you dare to look at them?

Featuring original music and poetry, ’Look at Us’ is a timely short play that takes on the political situation, gender roles, class, sexuality, and the influence of social media.

We welcome the authors and the director, Liisa Smith, as two actors read the script for this first opportunity to hear the work, leave your feedback, and perhaps even get involved.

JJ Bola is a writer and poet of three collections; ‘Elevate’ (2012), ‘Daughter of the Sun’ (2014), and ‘WORD’ (2015). His debut novel, ‘No Place to Call Home’, was first published in the UK in 2017.

Daniel Kramb is the author of three novels; ‘Central’ (2015), ‘From Here’ (2012), and ‘Dark Times’ (2010); and a collection of poetry; ‘Timid Takes’ (2013). Originally from Germany, he has lived and worked in London since 2003.

Originally from Estonia, Liisa Smith graduated from King’s College London / RADA with a postgraduate degree in theatre directing. Previous London credits include The Highway Crossing at the Blue Elephant Theatre and The Arcola (Time Out Critic’s Choice), On Raftery’s Hill at The Rosemary Branch (Time Out 4***), The Bird Sanctuary at The Rosemary Branch (Time Out Critic’s Choice), Happy Everyday! at The Lion and Unicorn, An Experiment with an Air Pump at the Lion and Unicorn (co-produced with The Giant Olive Theatre Company), and Belfy at The Space. Estonian credits include Poor Beast in the Rain (Vanemuine Repertory Theatre), Purge (Vanemuine Repertory Theatre: extended for three seasons, completed a national tour, and performed by invitation at the Finnish National Theatre), and chamber opera The Last Monogamist (Kamber). St Albans productions include The Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Abbey Theatre; and God of Carnage, Under the Blue Sky, and Betrayal at the Maltings Arts Theatre.

Photo: Fiachra O’Riain
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New Daughters of Africa

New Daughters of Africa
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Join us as we celebrate the publication of New Daughters of Africa, a major new anthology of writing by women of African descent, with a discussion between chef and writer Zoe Adjonyoh, award-winning author Patrice Lawrence, writer and activist Zita Holbourne, and poet and storyteller Jane Grell. Chairing the discussion will be the anthology’s editor, Margaret Busby OBE.

Twenty-five years ago, Margaret Busby’s groundbreaking anthology Daughters of Africa illuminated the ‘silent, forgotten, underrated voices of black women’ (The Washington Post). Published to international acclaim, it was hailed as ‘an extraordinary body of achievement
 a vital document of lost history’ (The Sunday Times).

New Daughters of Africa continues that mission for a new generation, bringing together a selection of overlooked artists of the past with fresh and vibrant voices that have emerged from across the globe in the past two decades, from Antigua to Zimbabwe and Angola to the USA. Key figures join popular contemporaries in paying tribute to the heritage that unites them. Each of the pieces in this remarkable collection demonstrates an uplifting sense of sisterhood, honours the strong links that endure from generation to generation, and addresses the common obstacles women writers of colour face as they negotiate issues of race, gender and class, and confront vital matters of independence, freedom and oppression.

Custom, tradition, friendships, sisterhood, romance, sexuality, intersectional feminism, the politics of gender, race, and identity—all and more are explored in this glorious collection of work from over 200 writers. New Daughters of Africa spans a wealth of genres—autobiography, memoir, oral history, letters, diaries, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, humour, politics, journalism, essays and speeches—to demonstrate the diversity and remarkable literary achievements of black women who remain under-represented, and whose works continue to be under-rated, in world culture today.

Featuring women across the diaspora, New Daughters of Africa illuminates the richness and cultural history of this original continent and its enduring influence, while reflecting our own lives and issues today. Bold and insightful, brilliant in its intimacy and universality, this essential volume honours the talents of African daughters and the inspiring legacy that connects them—and all of us.

Zoe Adjonyoh is a chef, writer, and founder of Hackney-based pop-up Zoe’s Ghanaian Kitchen. Her food has been widely celebrated following kitchen residencies across London as well as in Berlin and New York, in 2017 she published her debut book of Ghanaian recipes via Mitchell Beazley, and in 2018 she won the Culinary Iconoclast Award.

Patrice Lawrence is an award-winning writer, whose debut YA novel, Orangeboy, won the Bookseller YA Prize and the Waterstones Prize for Older Children’s Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award and many regional awards. Her second book, Indigo Donut, was shortlisted for the Bookseller YA Prize, was Book of the Week in The Times, The Sunday Times and The Observer, and was one of The Times’ top children’s books in 2017.

Zita Holbourne is a writer, artist, and award-winning trade union, community and human rights campaigner and activist. She is the founder of the Roots, Culture and Identity arts collective which showcases the art of predominantly young black, Asian and migrant artists. She is also the Co-Founder and National Co-Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC).

Jane Grell is a poet and storyteller born in Delices, Dominica. She has worked extensively as both a teacher and professional storyteller to promote bilingual literacy through oral storytelling, and is also the author of several collections of poetry for children and adults.

Margaret Busby OBE is an award-winning writer, editor, critic, consultant, and broadcaster, who was also the UK’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby. In 1992 she compiled the groundbreaking anthology Daughters of Africa.

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The White Paper by Satoshi Nakamoto

The White Paper by Satoshi Nakamoto
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First appearing ten years ago, The White Paper was a short but strikingly graceful outline of how an electronic cash system called Bitcoin might function without reliance on a central authority such as a bank or government, and was attributed only to a mysterious individual or group called Satoshi Nakamoto. At first glance, Ignota’s decision to follow up last year’s excellent Spells: 21st-Century Occult Poetry with a seemingly tangential examination of the birth of Bitcoin and blockchain technology might raise a few eyebrows. However, the reasons for this decision are made very clear in editor Ben Vickers’ preface; The White Paper constitutes the origin myth not only of cryptocurrency but potentially of a system of knowledge capable of reorganising all human social and political relations. A decade on from Bitcoin’s implementation and particularly in the wake of Nakamoto’s long silence, The White Paper might be considered a magical text, a sacred doctrine that appeared from nowhere and contained the power to alter reality.

The White Paper itself occupies only nine pages of this volume, and while it remains a revolutionary text in its own right, what really shines here is Jaya Klara Brekke’s highly accessible guide that accompanies it. Brekke unpacks many of the paper’s key ideas—from obscure aspects of cryptography and computation to privacy, transparency, and trust—and illuminates them next to the political concerns of post-crash 2009 as well as those emerging in the years since. For those of us who struggle to maintain a slim grasp of the real-world implications of blockchain technology, or those of us with an interest in contemporary myth-making, this is crucial reading.

Published by Ignota 31st January 2019

Radical Essex with Gillian Darley and Ken Worpole

Radical Essex
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An often maligned county, Essex’s recent history has been the subject of many stereotypes. A new book, Radical Essex, seeks to tell another story, exploring the dynamic relationship between London’s East End and radical experiments in living, whether in rural enclaves or on the desolate marshes. This is a story of socialist and anarchist land colonies, Christian and Tolstoyan retreats, and the county as the home of modernist architecture in Britain and model industrial communities. Two of the book’s authors, Gillian Darley & Ken Worpole, discuss the many utopian experiments in living to be re-discovered in the county’s radical history, now too often forgotten.

Gillian Darley is a widely published writer and broadcaster. Her publications include Villages of Vision (1975/2007), John Soane (1999), John Evelyn (2006), Octavia Hill (2010) and Ian Nairn: Words in Place with David McKie (2013). She is President of the Twentieth-Century Society.

Ken Worpole is the author of books on architecture, landscape and public policy, including two collaborations with photographer Jason Orton on the social history and landscape of coastal Essex: 350 Miles & The New English Landscape. His most recent book is New Jerusalem: The Good City and the Good Society (2017). A long-term resident in Hackney, he was described by The Independent as ‘one of the shrewdest and sharpest observers of the English social landscape.’